Recording for CD Sound Level with Digi001 and Mackie 1202VLZ-Pro

Satrokon satrokon at
Wed Feb 19 09:51:31 PST 2003

I am an amateur recorder and musician trying to figure out how to get 
my recordings to the right level to match professional audio CDs. I 
find that my results generally turn out CDs much lower in volume than 
the average, forcing those listening to my work to turn the stereo 
system way up.

This is the setup I use to record:
I use an Apple Blue & White G3 as my recording platform, with ProTools 
5.1 LE as my software component. For hardware I use Digidesign's 
Digi001 digital recording interface and a Mackie 1202VLZ-Pro mixer. I 
use the Digi001's 2 pre-amps for things like electric/acoustic guitar 
and vocals (both mic'ed) and the Mackie for sub-mixing my drum set. I 
mix the set down with my Mackie and then send the stereo signal to my 
Digi001's Analog 7 and 8 inputs using two balanced XLR to line cables. 
Occasionally I use the Mackie for other instruments such as piano 
because I find that it gives me more control and for some reason 
more/better amplification.

With this setup I can usually reach the "red zone" on a given track in 
ProTools, but I'm unclear exactly what this means. If I hit the top of 
the red zone the digital signal will clip? So far I haven't seen a 
direct correlation between clipping and that sound visual marker. But 
even when I get my audio boosted so it's right below clipping by using 
compressors and gain the resulting CD audio is still very low. My worst 
case was when I did a recording of 'Into the Woods,' where there were 
many different singers, each with his/her own vocal level (I only had 
two different vocal tracks to work with due to hardware limitations.) I 
have better luck with rock music, and usually I can get drums up to the 
right level. Vocals, guitar, and piano work remain a problem.

So is there some major step I'm missing in the mastering process? Or is 
it how I'm recording that is causing issues? I'm very much new with all 
these technologies so feel free to contact me with specific questions. 
Any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


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